Five-Needle Pines Community Science Project: Mid-Season Update
Photo credit: Christian Schwarz
In collaboration with the Pacific Crest Trail Association and the California Native Plant Society, the Whitebark Pine Ecosystem Foundation launched the “5-Needle Pines Along the Pacific Crest Trail” project this year. This community science project engages Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) hikers by having them catalog five-needle pines on a phone app to raise awareness about tree presence and location. These five-needle pines include whitebark pine, sugar pine, limber pine, western white pine, and foxtail pine.
Observations from PCT hikers about five-needle pines are collected and compiled in real time through the iNaturalist phone application. By the end of July of this year, 76 hikers have made a total of 133 observations. The top three species that were recorded include western white pine (43 observations), sugar pine (43 observations), and whitebark pine (29 observations).
Across the three states, we found that most observations were made in California with 98 observations in total. In Oregon, there were 17 observations, and in Washington, 18 observations. When categorized by species, California’s observations covered all five-needle pine species with a higher proportion of observations for sugar pine (42) and western white pine (27). In Oregon, observations were made for sugar pine (1), western white pine (11), and whitebark pine (5), while Washington had observations just for western white pine (5) and whitebark pine (13). These observation patterns are consistent with the known geographical ranges of these species.